We've Got Enough Stuff - Now Please Make It Work Better

06-06-2014 09:38 AM

If you missed a recent podcast then you may have missed one of the rants.
There’s never been more choice, more compressors, more reverbs, more nostalgia, more gates, more synths, more pitch trickster, denoisers, apps, snaps, renoisers, blippers, tweakers, twonkers… you get the idea, I think the only person yet to release another DAW is my Mum.
Don’t get me wrong I love new stuff like a puppy loves a ball, but perhaps this audio arms race needs to take a new direction - how about making the stuff we already have work better?
Plug-ins that are more efficient, which mean I don’t have to buy more ram or a new computer? There’s one for starters.
A DAW that is rock solid and doesn’t make me want to nuke a small nation when my creative efforts have just gone crashing down the shitter for the forth time in one session.
We have already seen some of this taking place, Avid made a start with Pro Tools 11 giving us more from our existing computers and other brands like Softube, Slate and Exponential Audio have been working hard to make their EXISTING plug-ins more efficiently. Universal Audio have worked hard to offer continued improvements for existing Apollo users as well as making entry into UAD easier for those who were yet to own one with the new baby Apollo hardware.
Again, I love new stuff, but innovation is not just about building new stuff, it’s about improving old stuff with features that some brands promised but are hoping we have forgetten about, better efficiency and reliability.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking to a lot of people at the top of the industry in both music and film, they all feel the same - they don’t want another great idea, they just want the stuff they have to work better and harder.
When a product doesn’t perform as you would hope then it starts to build up an underlying distrust of the brand and any future releases from the brand. Many of you will know of my issues with OS X Mavericks, it broke so much of my workflow that I finally removed any trace of it from all my machines and I’m now back on 10.8.5. If Mavericks works for you then I’m happy for you, this article is not about trying to fix my Maverick woes, been there, done that, moved on, ironically by stepping backwards - now I’m officially a late adopter!
So when Apple wheeled out OS X 10.10 this week, you can guess I’m about as excited as a I would be were I waiting for a colonoscopy. What really hurts me (forgive the turn of phrase) is I had been an early, early adopter Apple fan boy who has queued in the rain for their stuff, in fact I think the only person who got the Apple stuff before me was Jony Ive. But the glint has come off their crown for me and right now nothing I see is really going to shine it. I’ve not bought the latest iPhone, Mac Pro or iPad, at first In thought I might be suffering from depression, but after seeing my doctor he told me I had just wised up. Apple’s Eddy Cue this week claimed that the Apple products coming this year are the best they have done in the last 25 years, really? I wait with hope to be restored to fully fledged annoy the f*ck out of everyone Apple evangelist status. Apple need not worry though, they don’t need my support to stay in business, there are millions of people who want to take a phone call on their desktop, or the other ‘innovations’ that 10.10 offers.
However when brands fail to deliver on existing ideas, or on marketing hype, then there comes a time when even the most hardened fan thinks ‘screw this’ and either walks away or simply decides to stick with what they have and ignore their new ‘wonder drug’, even if it is from their favourite brand.
Engagement in a brand’s new ideas is proportionate to the positive or negative experience of their previous work. As my Dad says ‘reputation is tomorrow’s profit.’
Now those in favour of innovation (me included) could quote ‘Henry Ford didn’t make a faster buggy he made the motor car.’ I agree, but some companies have made a motor car that isn’t doing any better than the horse it replaced, or that keeps leaving me standing in the rain while I try and fix it again. Sometimes it is true that originality is overatted.
This is a genuine plea to ALL those working in product development and R&D, make stuff that gives me a better experience of the things I already love using, not something else I don’t really need.
The paranoid brands reading this will think this article is about them - well as the saying goes, if the cap fits then wear it. Those companies have two options, take offence and keep making oval wheels or go and make some round ones. Discuss.